I AM YOUR GIFTI will make this introduction quick, because my own opinion on the Pokemon series is irrelevant. I will say I've been a fan of it for a long time, but I must say that there are things that can get in through the games, and things that can get out. This isn't necessarily meant as a cautionary tale, but if you choose to see it that way, I won't mind.
Many of you are probably aware of the DNS spoofing trick on the DS Pokemon games that allow you to receive any event Pokemon from that era, given out by fan-run servers. You mess around with your internet settings, enter a specific DNS, and then receive the event Pokemon through Mystery Gift as if they were legitimate.
I, however, had been having a bit of difficulty finding a DNS address that worked, because there were a good few that just errored for some reason. So, I had posted about it on a gaming forum I frequented - I won't name it, but it was pretty small and close-knit - asking if anyone there had a DNS that worked for sure so I wouldn't have to mess around with testing long. A few people had posted working DNS addresses, I got the events to work, and that was that.
That is, until a week and a half after the thread was basically forgotten, I received a private message from some username I'd never seen before. Not the weirdest on its own, it was a small forum but not THAT small. I was more confused that I was receiving a private message about the DNS event spoofing this long after I had already visibly said in the thread itself that I had gotten the events to work. I would've just politely replied that I didn't need one anymore and deleted the message, but something about it intrigued me.
"hello my friend i heard you were seeking distribution pokemon server dns. this is for pokemon black/white it will help you obtain a secret pokemon. try it and you will be surprised" and then a DNS address I hadn't seen before.
While I had all the events in my games already, my curiosity was piqued. I had a spare copy of Pokemon Black that was just collecting dust, so even if this "secret Pokemon" was really some kind of malicious code somehow, it's not like I had anything to lose.
So, one evening after work (I work at a convenience store, for those of you that are wondering), I dusted off my Pokemon Black cart, popped it in, and changed my internet settings to use this new DNS address.
When I connected my DS to the Mystery Gift server, it hung for a minute with a low buzzing sound, and I had figured that whatever I had been sent over crashed my game. But I let it run for a little while, and eventually the buzzing faded out and the Mystery Gift music abruptly cut back in.
The "Choose a gift you want to receive." came up, and my only choice was labelled "Your Gift" and had no description. As shady as it was, I was curious and so I selected it. From the top of the screen descended some gray question mark, and the game suddenly made a brief ear-splitting screech that almost made me drop the DS... but as soon as it happened, I was kicked back to the menu screen with no Wonder Card or any sort of fanfare.
That was suspicious, and I figured I might've somehow permanently messed up my save file, but when I started the game itself everything was just as I had left it. I headed to the Pokemon Center and the deliveryman who gave you the events was there. I talked to him and he gave his normal spiel before giving me something a bit... surprising.
"[my name] received Arceus!"
Despite what the game said, it played a jingle as if I had obtained a key item.
"See you tomorrow."
That certainly wasn't what the deliveryman was supposed to say, but it did pique my curiosity. Would I get a new "gift" every day?
I quickly checked my party, only to find my empty slot was still empty. Then, on a whim, I checked the key items section of my bag, and there it was. What "it" was... wasn't QUITE an Arceus. Not all of one, at least. It was just the wheel, the two halves of it connected in the middle as if there had never been a Pokemon between them. Its description simply read "I am your gift." Trying to use it just prompted the "can't use that now" message.
It was incredibly weird, and it filled me with curiosity. What could it possibly give me the next day? Soon after, I went to bed, speculation swirling around my thoughts.
I didn't sleep well that night. In fact, I'm not sure I slept at all. It does turn out, though, that trying to count the number of specks on a flecked ceiling is not as good a waste of time as it's been made out to be. I figured perhaps maybe my intrigue at the mystery made me restless, but in retrospect it may have been something else entirely.
The next morning, the very first thing I did before I went to work was boot up Pokemon Black and receive another Mystery Gift. I don't know why I prioritized that over anything else, but I did.
I received another strange question mark with a vague title and no description, and I assumed like before its identity would be revealed when I got it from the delivery man.
"[my name] received Mew!" In that moment, I felt like I had lost something, though I wasn't sure what. I still never quite figured it out.
"See you tomorrow." The same message, again.
I checked my Key Items, and like I had expected there it was. Once again, the description was just "I am your gift." but I was unsettled by the image. It was just the arm of a Mew, nothing else, and the stump ended in a clean flat hot pink color with no hint of blood or any indication that it could've belonged to a living thing at all. It was like a toy, or a piece of one. It wasn't really frightening or anything, it just seemed... wrong. I still couldn't do anything with it or the Arceus wheel, regardless.
I was awkward and well... "out of it" at work that day. My coworkers had asked me what was wrong, but I honestly couldn't tell them because I wasn't sure myself. Regardless, my foggy mental state didn't interfere much with my job.
I slept far better that night, however - perhaps it was the sleep deprivation. I used that to justify my strangeness that day. When I awoke, for some strange reason I found the DS lying open on my bed. I was understandably a bit off-put, but I hadn't yet made the connection between the game and my dizziness the other day, so I had figured I had perhaps opened it in a daze last night before passing out. I didn't think about how the battery should not have lasted overnight.
I reached over to look at it to find it on the main menu, hovering over Mystery Gift. I just figured since it was already there, I might as well do today's gift now... much to my surprise, when I selected that day's "Your Gift" an actual Pokemon sprite hovered down - a Rayquaza. I figured that this meant something different would happen when I talked to the deliveryman... but no, I simply found myself with another strange item in my inventory. Much like the "Mew", this was just the arm of a Rayquaza, the stump ending in a solid unshaded lime green. The feeling that something was missing came back, stronger than before, but I still couldn't place it. I didn't realize it then, but I was too afraid to try.
That day at work I spent most of my time on cleanup and stocking the shelves so I could avoid my coworkers. They were bickering over something or other, and it just... pissed me off. I didn't care to find out the problem and instead tried to avoid interacting with them as much as possible. Instead I occupied my thoughts by thinking about the Mystery Gifts instead.
They were certainly, well... mysterious. I assume whoever ran the server must have programmed them into the game, but how and why? And I figured perhaps the gifts would get more specific on what they were before I received them as time went on, considering that I was able to see the Rayquaza sprite this time. Maybe it was all building up to some grand reveal? Of what, I had no clue. Maybe it wouldn't go anywhere and I was wasting my time.
I spent my free time at home that night trying to actually play one of my Pokemon games, but I couldn't muster the interest. I eventually just went to bed feeling defeated and unfulfilled.
When I woke up, I started up Pokemon Black first thing, wanting to get the day's curiosity out of the way first. The gift still had the vague title of "Your Gift", but once again I was able to see the actual sprite of the Pokemon this time, a Celebi. And, when I received it from the deliveryman, I wasn't at all surprised to find it was a key item of a Celebi's arm and nothing else. Were these all going to be arms...??
That day, I didn't end up going to work until I was about 3 hours late. It wasn't intentional, but I had lost track of time that morning doing a bit of cleaning around the house. I got chewed out really bad when I actually showed up, but I was genuinely horrified that I could've screwed up that badly. I had always thought I had a good sense of time and never really got lost in things that way... but the rest of the day I was just as confused by it. I could never tell what time it was and ended up checking clocks so frequently that the numbers all started to blur together in my mind. It got so bad that I excused myself from work early, unable to handle the wait for the end of my shift when I couldn't even gauge how much time had passed. This was never a problem I had had before.
A cold pit of dread formed in my stomach when I had returned home that night and went straight up to my bed, only to find my DS wide open and still in the inventory, hovered over the "Celebi" item. While it felt completely unbelievable, I couldn't help but wonder if the Celebi arm was connected to my loss of time somehow... after all, I hadn't felt right ever since I had started receiving those "gifts," was it too strange to believe that maybe it was more than a coincidence? I shut the DS and shuddered. It was only day four and I was already letting this get to my head.
In the morning, when I opened the game, it was already on the Mystery Gift screen. I knew for a fact I hadn't left it like that, but there it was. I wasn't really surprised.
Every part of me was screaming right then and there to close the DS and get rid of the game, and I almost did... I was so afraid that this would somehow defy all sense and end up killing me.
But some nagging feeling in the back of my head nudged me, whispering "just one more, just to see if it's true." It was only logical, wasn't it? So I pressed the button again and received that day's gift.
The transitions played, and innocently there descended a Yveltal. I somehow wasn't surprised much at the presence of a Pokemon later than this generation, but my blood ran deathly cold. My hands ran almost on autopilot to take me to the delivery man as I wondered what would happen if I took that "gift." Would I die, then and there?
When I received the Yveltal wing, I did not die. But I no longer had the ability to care if I did.
I wondered what I had been so afraid of in the first place. After all, death was nothing in the face of a life left burning with curiosity. With a newfound endless bravery, I resolved to reach the end of these gifts and find out what it all was building up to. I no longer minded if it killed me.
The next weeks were a slog, especially since time felt like it either passed by in an instant or took ages. Each day, I started by receiving my Gift for that day, and the rest of it I spent trying to pass the time in other ways. My coworkers noticed my slow deterioration as I lost parts of myself to the game, and eventually my manager forced me to take sick leave. I didn't tell them about the game, though - even as I grew more and more obssessed with riding this to its conclusion, it still felt like a bit of a secret.
The pattern from before continued for all the legendary and mythical Pokemon, with me receiving just an arm or other equivalent limb as a key item and losing some part of myself connected in some way to the Pokemon. I'll list a small few for the curious, but I won't list them all - I wouldn't want to take all the surprise out of it.
The Cresselia paw - I slept that night horribly and fitfully, my dreams filled with dark forms and twisting chaos and so, so much blood. I couldn't tell you what happened in them, because I certainly couldn't remember. At this point the gifts started actually being labelled based on the "Pokemon" I would receive.
The Darkrai arm - this was the night after I received the Cresselia paw, and truth be told I was happy to receive this one immediately afterwards. That night, my sleep was peaceful but entirely dreamless. I awoke feeling as though I had never fallen asleep. At this point, the Mystery Gifts started to have descriptions, but they simply read "I am your gift." much like the items I got from them.
The Latias and Latios arms - I received both at once, which surprised me. I found myself unable to care about my family relations any longer, no longer even remembering their names.
The Keldeo hoof - this one, I prefer not to say exactly... but to those who may know me in real life, I don't blame you if you don't forgive me. After I received this one, the Mystery Gift button finally changed to read "Your Gift".
The Azelf arm - unsurprisingly, I lost any sort of willpower or resolve I had. Even the determination I had to ride this through had fizzled, but by then something else was pulling my actions and so it didn't matter much at all.
The Dialga leg - if Celebi's limb had skewed my perception of time, Dialga's had stolen it away completely. I couldn't read clocks, I couldn't gauge how much time had passed from one event to the next... it felt like I was freefloating between events chained to one another with no logical connection. It's not easy to explain, especially if you haven't experienced it. By this point, every time I turned on the game it would boot straight to the main menu, hovering over the "Your Gift" option.
I'm sure you get the idea by now... I managed to gather all of the mythicals and legends, and by the end I'm sure I was a pathetic hollow husk of a person who just did the bare minimum of existing, but I felt something almost kind of like satisfaction (-- but not quite, after I had received the Mesprit arm that was no longer something I could truly feel). I had all of them... though I had no idea what to do with them.
When I received the last one - a Reshiram arm, for the curious, perhaps because I was playing Pokemon Black? - the deliveryman gave a different closing line of dialogue than the usual.
I had no idea how. I tried to use the Gifts as items, but not one of them reacted differently than normal. But an unusual idea entered my mind... I don't feel like it was an idea of my own, as I lost creativity a while ago with the Meloetta arm, but it was one I went with nonetheless.
I gathered together all sorts of sewing materials from around the house and sewed together a ball of fabric, and to this ball I affixed various knick-knacks and other such things I had gathered. Each was meant to represent a different kind of Gift in whatever way I saw fit. It took at least two days - judging by the sunlight in my room while I working - as I wasn't skilled with sewing and many of the Gifts were incredibly difficult to find a suitable fit for just from around my house, but I held out. I had no other choice, after all. I had given everything that I was to these Gifts, and if I didn't finish them I would have wasted myself for nothing.
When the effigy was all together, I felt a gentle flare of warmth in my heart I hadn't felt since... many parts ago, at the very least. I heard the jarring sound of wild encounter music ring out from my DS speakers, and so I hurriedly grabbed the console to see what I had made. My Gift.
And when I looked directly at it, I could feel everything I had lost. All of it together at once was heavy and crushing and sickening, but I loved it. I loved to be able to feel again. And I loved my creation for giving these feelings back to me.
It wasn't a pretty thing. It looked about what you'd expect for what it was made of - a twitching, writhing ball of deity Pokemon limbs suspended in the wheel of an Arceus, swaying gently to a song I couldn't hear yet. No name was displayed for it anywhere - how could one be, when it had just been created and had not yet been named?
My trainer sent out no Pokemon. Text appeared where that message would have normally been, and I felt it in my skull. "Good morning. We are beautiful. Thank you for creating me."
I know it sounds silly to say I did something so mundane even after all this, but I used a Pokeball. I caught it instantly.
There was no nickname screen or anything. The game just cut awkwardly to a blank stats screen for my Gift. The only stat it displayed was a text box in the center that read "Incomplete." I felt a pang of frustration and heartbreak stir within me, a feeling I hadn't really missed. What could possibly be missing from my perfect Gift?
"You." a textbox appeared, as if the game had read my mind (and it likely had.) I was briefly confused, was there anything of me left to take? But then I realized, and understood.
Another textbox appeared. "As I am your Gift, you are mine." The screen faded to black ever-so-gently and I knew what I needed to do now.
I found myself on the Pokemon Black menu screen once more, the "Your Gift" button now reading "My Gift". I didn't remember returning to the menu. I didn't even remember what I did immediately after the last message my Gift had given me. But I did not hesitate when I pressed the button, and I did not flinch when immediately the screen went black and the console's speakers emitted a grinding, wailing screech of corruption.
What happened next, I will leave to your imagination. It's not something I know how to describe in words, even now.
But perhaps when you someday find your own Gift, you will understand for yourself.